Worms!

Clyde Thomas, the director of Plant Services here on campus, has worms. Lots of them. In fact, he’s got about 80 pounds of the creepy-crawlers right now, and his goal is to amass 3,000 pounds of these garbage-eating creatures.

The new vermicomposting program will serve two main purposes: First, food waste from Bon Appetit, the food service company at George Fox, will go into compost bins where the worms live. They feed on the leftover food, digest it and leave behind nutrient-rich castings (worm manure). Second, the castings will help fertilize the athletic fields, which will reduce the amount of synthetic chemicals, which will in turn reduce the university’s carbon footprint.

The worms get to feast, waste gets reduced and the fields get fertilized naturally. Win-win-win.

Thomas enlisted the help of George Fox students to help with the worm herding. About 20 compost bins will be placed around campus, each with about three pounds of worms. Every three months, worm populations can double. As the compost colony grows, Thomas will place them in larger bins until he reaches his desired 3,000 pounds, which should take about 18 months.

Thomas empties a bucket of compost and worms to separate them into smaller containers for students to place in bins located around campus.

Thomas packs a container filled with a couple pounds of worms. Worms can eat up to half their body weight in food every day.
Healthy worms like these are quite active. Worms that are swollen or crawling aimlessly on the top of a compost bin are likely victims of “sour crop,” a common problem caused by ingesting too much protein.
Worm herder shirts are available for $10. Contact Plant Services for more information at 503-554-2010.